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leisure credits

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.

Start the Week

We start this week with a look at some of the companies we have highlighted over the past few months, many of these are now going into liquidation. These companies are in most case only around two years old and began as “contract termination” with “no win no fee” claims once the contract has been cancelled. We also look at some of those that are under investigation or are in court and those that have even been sentenced.

First we look at RSB Legal, this company first came to our attention back in 2016, there modas operandi was very simple, once they contacted the timeshare owner the offer was to meet at one of their offices to discuss a “no win no fee” claim against the clients timeshare company. This soon turned into a pitch for the cancellation of the contract first, once this had been completed then the claim could go forward.

The one problem was they needed upwards of £6,000 to do the cancellation to be paid in advance, the claim would come later. The question that was asked was how was the claim to be made? After all it couldn’t go to court, especially if it was a timeshare bought in Spain, as once a contract is cancelled then no claim could be taken to court.

This left a Section 75 claim under The Credit Consumer Act 1974, against the credit card company or the finance company if it was purchased with a loan supplied by the timeshare company.

These were unlikely to have paid out, as with all section 75 claims you must show either: you have not received the goods or services paid for; the company has gone into liquidation; faulty goods unfit for purpose. This is fine if you are purchasing say a washing machine, but with a holiday product, especially a timeshare purchased many years ago, you will have used it and taken holidays. Even if the company no longer exists it would be difficult to get a payout.

Section 75 does not cover the misrepresentation of the sales agent at the time of purchase, if it is not in the contract it was never said!

The credit card provider will always contact the company involved to get their side, obviously, they will say that you have received the goods and services, after all you have used it. You may argue that you were unable to use it as you could not get the dates you required, the answer of the timeshare company is always going to be, sorry but these are always subject to availability, we did offer alternatives but the member didn’t want those. Hence claim denied.

Another twist is RSB Legal palmed off the cancellations to another firm Taylor Marshall Associates, a very clever move as if the contract wasn’t cancelled, no claim could be made against RSB Legal under section 75. They would claim that they have fulfilled their part of the contract and it was Taylor Marshall who had not done the work.

This is a scenario that we have seen on many occasions with many of these “Exit Companies”. Once it is passed over the client is then told that they should no longer pay their maintenance fees as their contract will be cancelled within weeks. The unfortunate thing is that nothing was done, the exit company did not carry out the work and the client ends up with several years of maintenance fee arrears. This has been the case with RSB Legal clients passed to Taylor Marshall, especially those members of Club la Costa. In this case CLC had informed RSB and Taylor that they do not recognise them, that they do not deal with third parties, but will cancel a membership directly with the member only and free of charge!

For those clients who have been through this, you can try a section 75 claim, but you should also report to Trading Standards and Action Fraud.

Back in January 2018, we reported on the announcement that Standon Mortimer Associates were the subject of a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation. Again this was a company contacting clients for exit and claims, the list of companies they were involved with is quite extensive, including RSB Legal, FHA Marketing along with Anderson Read Consultancy, Warwickshire ConsultantsCharles Ashworth Consultants and Harwood Jones Consulting.

So it looks like all these companies were all working hand in hand, the unifying factor appears they all worked with or for RSB Legal. The unfortunate thing is that many people have paid and lost thousands, yet these companies are limited liability companies and go into liquidation after spiriting the money away leaving no way of retrieving what you have lost. It just makes you wonder what new companies and scams they owners are going to come up with next.

As we know the Regional Organised Crime Unit of Somerset & Avon Police are investigation several Mark Rowe companies, we have also been told by reliable sources that Hollywood Marketing in Tenerife is also under investigation by the Spanish Authorities.

The companies under investigation include sellmytimeshare.tv, Monster Rewards and Monster Credits, yet Mark Rowe is still advertising in the press, facebook and other media his ABC Lawyers, Timeshare-Lawyers and other companies. The unfortunate thing is that many people will believe any advert they see in the press.

A good example is one reader, an elderly lady who saw one of his adverts in the Royal British Legion magazine, so naturally she thought it was genuine. The next thing is she had been sold Monster Credits. As we explained, just because the advert appears in a publication which we know and trust, does not mean it is genuine. After all, the magazine publishers need to sell advertising space to cover costs, they don’t check if advertisers are genuine, they only take the money.

Back in February we also reported on the jailing of several people involved in a long running timeshare scam, this revolved around the resale of timeshare. It then went on to contacting those who paid to sell their timeshare being contacted yet again, this time to get the money back from the original scam. There was then a third part, another company called to say they had been appointed by the Spanish courts to contact clients who had been scammed before, that there was money waiting for them and a tax needed to be paid to release the money.

The full article can be seen by following the link below:

http://insidetimeshare.com/they-get-them-in-the-end/

There is still no news on the sentencing of Dominic O’Reilly or his Daughter Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group. From information received this may not be taking place until around September. This leaves it very difficult for those taken in by the Leisure Credits to be able to get their money back. When new information becomes available we will publish it here.

So, we are losing some of these companies, but how long before other surface to take their place, as always, beware the calls offering “no win no fee” claims, the guaranteed exit solution or the “fake” law firm that tells you a case against your timeshare company is about to go to court or has been to court. Check, check and check again, do your homework, contact Inside Timeshare if you want help in checking the validity of any company that has contacted you or even one you have found either on the internet or advertising in the press.

Tomorrow we publish another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week it is about “Special Assessments” at the Americano Beach Resort.

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams

Today we look at how timeshare scams have changed over the years, from the original sales to resale, holiday clubs and now for claims. You will be surprised at how they have developed, we will also give you some useful information on what to look for when either searching the web or being contacted.

When timeshare was first being marketed on a large scale during the 1980’s and the boom years of the 1990’s the most common scam was known as the “hole in the ground”. This is where the unsuspecting tourist while on holiday was picked up off the street by the touts with the scratch cards, taken to a resort with a sales deck and subjected to a rather lengthy presentation.

Nothing new there, the difference with this presentation was that the resort the potential client was at, was not what was being sold. That resort had not yet been built, it was in the planning stage, the client was being offered to buy “off-plan”.

off plan

These apartments and weeks would be sold at a discounted price, for example a studio may go for around £2,500, much cheaper than the ones on the resort they were visiting. Many signed up for these timeshares, only to find out later that the resort was never actually built, the marketing company had disappeared along with their money.

It was then towards the end of the 1990’s that the resale market began, many timeshares were sold on the basis that they were real estate, you were buying a portion of the bricks and mortar, so it would go up in value.

One of the early resale scams was started and run by the infamous Toni Muldoon from the Costa del Sol. He had a string of companies, one was known as Platinum Properties.

The scam played on greed, owners would be cold called and asked if they had thought about selling their timeshare. The pitch was very simple, there is a shortage of new timeshares and the prices of second hand ones was increasing due to demand.

The unsuspecting owners would be asked what they owned and what they had paid, the callers would then explain that those were in high demand and fetching very good prices. For example, an owner would say they paid around £5,000 for theirs, yes you guessed it, they would be told that those were now going for about £7,000 on the resale market and going up in value.

Now for only £1,500 Platinum Properties would list this for you, if they were not able to sell this within the 12 months of the contract, the deposit would be returned. That deposit would also be returned once the sale had gone through, as the buyer would pay all the costs. Many took up this offer and that was the last they ever heard from the company again.

Eventually Toni Muldoon was caught and received a 2 year sentence which was then suspended, he was eventually jailed in the UK for other non-timeshare related scams and has been release on parole. He has now set up 2 websites, one relating to timeshare (claims) the other called Scam-Busters. The question is can a leopard change its spots?

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His business became the model for all the other resale companies that sprang up during the early 2000’s.

The next incarnation of the resale scam was the classic “bait and switch”, this is where the client was told they had a buyer for the timeshare, usually a “corporate buyer”. All the seller needed to do was visit the resale office on the Costa del Sol or wherever and attend a meeting with the buyer.

But, there was no buyer, the meeting was a presentation for one of the new Discount Holiday Clubs. These were the  new way to holiday, free from the yearly and rising costs of maintenance fees. The pitch was they would take over your timeshare leaving you maintenance free, but to do this you had to buy a membership to their club. Again these varied in price depending on the length of the membership.

Those prices were obviously inflated, as they would then give a massive discount to take into account the price of your timeshare. For instance, the owner would be told that a 10 year membership would cost £15,900 but they would give you £6,500 for the timeshare, leaving the cost of membership at £9,400.

Another twist to this was the cashback scheme, this was a voucher made out for a large sum to cover the cost of the timeshare plus some of the membership fee, that had to be registered and in 36 months or so you would go through the reclaim procedure and receive at least 75% of the certificate value.

cashback

Incentive Leisure Group and their Designer Way Vacation Club along with Club Class Concierge were the major players in this particular scheme. Both eventually were wound up by the UK authorities.

The next system to emerge was based on the above, this time they were leisure credits, which “could” be used to get discounts on all sorts of goods and services, not just holidays. The same tactic was used, get the client to a meeting and the only way to get out of the timeshare was to purchase the leisure credits and join our scheme!

The most well known are EZE Group, whose owners are awaiting sentence at Birmingham Crown Court and Monster Credits. The latter is now under investigation by the Police after raids by Trading Standards.

We now move to the latest in this long list of innovative frauds, the claims business.

Since the first Supreme Court ruling in March 2015, these have mushroomed, they take on many various forms, from fake law firms to claims management companies.

The pitch varies from firm to firm but one thing is clear, everyone has a case and can claim!

The most sophisticated fraud is one Inside Timeshare has been following for over 2 years, the group of “Fake” law firms we have called the Litigious Abogados family operating out of Tenerife.

Theirs involves clients being told the case has been filed and they can be part of it, all they need to do is pay a certain amount and they will be included in the case being heard within the next month. All the documents look very convincing, even down to very good fake court documents. For more on this search for Litigious Abogados.

There are also many firms operating out of the UK, these are offering “no win no fee” claims, but in order to do this you need to have your timeshare contract cancelled, known as relinquishment. This involves a fee, this can be anything from £4,000 to £8,000 depending on the company. (Beware of this, many have found that after 3 years or so they end up getting demands for maintenance arrears).

sec 75

Once you have paid for the contract to be cancelled, then they will file a claim on the “no win no fee” basis. This does not involve a court case, (once your contract has been cancelled, you cannot take the case to court), it is a Section 75 under the Credit Consumer Act 1974. As you can imagine this is not going to work, the credit card company will deny the payment stating that you have had use of the product and therefore are not eligible.

Section 75 covers, not received the goods or services paid for, company has gone bankrupt, fraudulent transactions. This would not cover the misselling of timeshare, the contract can only be declared illegal in a court and at present the laws only apply to timeshares purchased in Spain.

Now, it can be very difficult to decide which company is genuine and which is not, this is where you need to do your homework.

Some very basic tips are, how long has the company been registered, this can be found out by doing a company search, this will also tell you if they have changed name. If the company has only been registered for say 1 year, then how do they account for their claims of helping hundreds of people, especially if they have testimonials dated several years before they were registered. Also just because a company has a registration, that does not prove they are genuine, anyone can register a company for very little outlay.

Another factor is the officers of the company, the director and secretary, these may be just front people, not the actual owners of the company.

What about the website? Who is it registered to and when was it registered?

whois

Some websites are registered under privacy registrations, these are using a privacy company to register the site for the person. This should set the alarm bells ringing, what have they got to hide?

Payment methods is also a very useful giveaway, any genuine company should have credit card facilities, at least that way you are covered if anything does go wrong. Do not use your card via any method such as PayPal, this is a third party and invalidates your rights under Section 75.

Companies using only bank transfers should be viewed with caution, especially if the transfer is to be made in the name of a private individual. Steer well clear of any company that asks for payment by any other means such as Western Union.

These are just the very basic rules, if in doubt do not do anything, if you require any help in checking the validity of any company that contacts you or one you have found while searching the internet, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember do your homework and keep your hard earned cash safe!

homework

The Friday Post: A Look at the Past Week.

It’s Friday, the end of another week in the murky world of timeshare, and what a week it’s been.

The RDO and TATOC announce that Silverpoint has withdrawn their membership from these two organisations, with Silverpoint announcing they will no longer be selling timeshare. One can only speculate as to the reasons behind this, but it does look like they may just be looking to develop another product which circumvents the timeshare laws. Rumour has it, this may be a “leisure credits” type of product.

There is also a lot of speculation as to a probable name change to the company, again this might just be to deflect any further litigation. After all Silverpoint did try and argue that they were not Resort Properties at one point, but the courts threw this out stating they are one and the same entity.

Inside Timeshare also announced in a previous article the sell off at Beverly Hills Heights, with owners being moved to other apartments or to Hollywood Mirage. We saw this at Beverly Hills Club a couple of years ago when this resort was sold off. It is now used as a hotel. Palm Beach Club owners also had the same thing happen, when the top 3 floors were sold. Again they were moved to other apartments or resorts.

Silverpoint’s woes do not just stop there. This week alone, the Canarian law firm, Canarian Legal Alliance announced 6, yes 6 court judgements against Silverpoint. All of these were delivered by the Court of First Instance in Arona, they all followed the 50+ Supreme Court rulings.

All the contracts were declared “Null & Void” with over £120,000 awarded to the clients, including legal interest and legal fees. This is quite a staggering amount to have to pay out in just one week, with many many more in the pipeline. It makes you wonder how long Silverpoint can hold out with these figures being awarded against them by the courts. So they may just need to come up with a new product pretty damn quick!

Again this week we have had new information passed to us about the Litigious Abogados family, these “law firms” are hitting many timeshare owners with false promises of cases against their timeshare resorts / companies being lodged at court. One which we highlighted this week was a gentleman who had a narrow escape, luckily he found previous articles and never paid them.

The new “firm” Abel Garcia Abogados, told him his case had been lodged with the court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 4 March, the case was due to be heard on 25 April. Under 2 months to get the case heard, this is astronomical, even CLA take around 2 years and they are the most experienced in this field.

The only problem is he did not own anything, the “club” he purchased and the marketing company selling it, were dissolved many years ago so no longer exist. They were also UK based and the sales were conducted in the UK, so how could a Spanish court have jurisdiction?

These “law firms” have a very sophisticated operation, all the documents look genuine to those who do not ever see the real thing. The story is also very plausible, then coupled with the high amounts being “awarded” by the court, along with copies of the cheque waiting to be sent to the lucky client, it is easy to see how people can be taken in.

Irene Parker, our US colleague, has also been busy, getting ready for her “starring role” in the Fox News programme Property Man with Bob Massi. Today’s article from the US is an update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups.

This is becoming a very big project, attracting more and more owners to the various facebook groups, it is also stimulating a lot of dialogue with the industry. Could it be the industry is now starting to realise that without you the owners / members, there would be no industry?

Well thats enough of that, on with Irene’s Friday piece.

Update on Timeshare Advocacy Groups

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Irene Parker

April 6, 2017

Our consumer advocates have heard an earful, so we are encouraging those who feel they have been victims of deception or fraud, review ARDA’s code of ethics and email ARDA ROC to express your concerns.

The biggest complaint our Advocacy Group members have expressed is lack of a secondary market.  ARDA ROC needs to know when there is no secondary market for a timeshare, at least not through any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

If you are looking for information on selling your timeshare, please note that ARDA-ROC is not a resale organization, however we can point you in the right direction. Visit

http://www.ardaroc.org/tips-to-exit-your-timeshare.aspx

for more information on the timeshare resale process as well as a link to resale companies who are members of ARDA.

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. Conduct.  All  Member Activities with customers, clients, other Members, business or community partners, regulators, legislators or government agencies shall be honest, legal, ethical, and in accord with standards of fair business dealings, professionalism, integrity, dignity and propriety. Members shall not denigrate the Vacation Property business, but instead shall use their good faith efforts to promote the Vacation Property business.

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Timeshare narrative can get confusing fast, especially when there are multiple contracts that span several years. To make it easier for the resort and for our members, here is a blueprint members can follow.

How to File a Complaint

Name

Phone Number

State of Residence

Number of points currently owned

Current Maintenance Fees

Original Loan Amount and stated interest rate

Current Balance

Resort where purchased and sales agent’s name

If you are claiming deception or fraud, list how you feel you were deceived.

Deception 1

Deception 2, Etc.

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment? If your investment is $20,000 or less and you owned your timeshare for ten years or more consider relinquishment.

Are you sure you know how to use points and the program correctly?

Why do you want relinquishment?

Is it due to Deception, Health, or Financial Burden?

Availability – There are many who are happy with availability but there are those who have been oversold on availability. For example, we were told to buy more points because NYC properties were being added. Because these are affiliated properties, like in San Francisco as well, they are never discounted and never have 59 days or fewer rates. On average, year round, it costs $5000 to $10000 in maintenance fee equivalent dollars what could be booked online in New York for $2500 to $3500 for a week. Great Wolfe Lodge is similar.

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

Remove numbers from your testimony. It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the contracts and figures at the top of your complaint.

ALWAYS include the name of the sales agent (s). Refer to your contract if you don’t know.  Provide the sales agent’s ID number if you can.

How Advocacy Works

Email your sworn testimony. Raise your right hand. Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Start writing.

Send to intake volunteer who will review, edit and return to you.

Position open: Volunteer report writer. No experience necessary.

An email will be sent to the resort, public relations and you.

Owner or member takes it from there unless there are questions or concerns along the way. Owner or member will report back with positive or negative outcome. Due to the mutual release, terms and conditions will not be discussed. If negative, complaints to be filed with:

Attorneys General where you signed, where you live and Nevada.

Our Advocacy Group

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

It’s a lot of work but it is the only way to change business practices is through an organized lobby effort targeting legislators and regulatory agencies that may be sympathetic to owners or members, and media outreach targeting the general public.

What to expect from regulatory agencies:

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Send us your comments or articles! New voices are needed.

need you

So there we have it, the end to another week, but as we say, timeshare never sleeps more news will break over the weekend so watch this space for next week’s articles.

Have a good weekend and enjoy yourselves.

weekend cat

Timeshare Transfer Agents and Exit Companies: Friend or Foe?

Irene Parker and I take a look at timeshare relinquishment comparing Europe to America. As many Europeans own timeshares purchased in America, it’s useful to have the complete picture. This time she asks the question “Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

For those not familiar with the term, Transfer Agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. (more on this further on).

In Europe we have a different take on this subject, as we do not have the same model of Transfer Agents like the US. We tend to have resale firms and exit companies, some purport to be legal firms, who for a sizeable fee will relinquish your contract. Many of these companies do both, so the lines can be a ltiile blurred. Although we do have some of the same problems, such as resorts /developers who do not recognise the sale and or transfer.

Here we bring in the ongoing story of two elderly sisters, known as Mrs B. Around two years ago they took up the services of a company  who claimed they would get compensation for them if they joined their “Class Action” group. But in order to do this they had to pay around £5965 to relinquish their two timeshares, one was Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote, the other was Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, run by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels.

Mrs B signed a power of attorney so the company could work on her behalf, all appeared to be above board. After around a year she eventually received notification that her timeshare had gone, both had been transferred / sold to a gentleman for £1 each. Inside Timeshare has all documents relating to this.

Sounds all well and good.

Well, as far as Oasis Lanz is concerned it is, Mrs B has not had any contact from them or received any maintenance bills. The problem is Dona Lola Club and MacDonald Resorts, they will not recognise the transfer. This has now caused a problem for Mrs B and her sister.

They have been subject to threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency, Network Credit Services, employed by MacDonald Resorts. According to them there is £1412.54 (as of April 2016) for maintenance, accrued after the supposed transfer, (this amount increases as time goes on).

So why do MacDonald Resorts not recognise this transfer?

On speaking to Network Credit Services and explaining that the debt was under dispute, Maureen stated that MacDonald Resorts will not recognise any transfer made by this company, because in Maureens words McDonalds just get paperwork back from  saying no longer required”. In other words, there was no actual sale or legal relinquishment. You will see the same in the article by Irene, using a company to take on the transfers.

This case is still ongoing with official complaints about the chasing of this “debt” going through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Another aspect that is very common in Europe is the “Bait and Switch” tactic employed by many companies claiming to be “resale” firms.

The basis of this method is very simple, the timeshare owner either contacts a company they have found on the internet, or, they have been cold called by. They promise they can sell your timeshare and even give a very high valuation over the phone. Next they arrange a meeting to discuss your options.

Unfortunately there is no resale market, with one company actually stating this, so what then happens?

Simple, in order to get rid of your timeshare you must now purchase another product, be it leisure credits or discount holiday club. At the meeting ( read sales presentation), you are told that the product will cost around £10k to £12k. But don’t worry, we will discount that price for the value of your timeshare, so it will only cost you a fraction of that amount.

This was used to dupe many owners into Club Class and DWVC, where the incentive was the cashback offer. With this you are given a certificate for the value of the timeshare plus the cost of joining the club. In 3 to 5 years, as long as you follow the rules (which were complicated) you could then claim back the value on the certificate. So far we have never known anyone who did get paid out.

But what happened to your timeshare?

For many it was simple, they did not get rid of it, then after a couple of years they found they owned years of back maintenance. The timeshares were not transferred or relinquished, they are still liable for the maintenance and still own it, causing many a stressful situation with debt collectors.

So, let us look at what the situation is in the USA.

Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

dollar    By Irene Parker November 20, 2016

Lately, a company by the name of Resort Release has been running an ad on my Facebook feed. It is always frustrating to invest time and energy campaigning to improve the timeshare industry, only to have companies we don’t approve of take out ads promoting their service. At least Inside Timeshare can control who posts on their site.

Transfer agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. The upfront fee ranges from $3500 to $7000 or more. Contracts taken back are “bundled” 25 to 50 and sold back to the developers, similar to what happened during the worldwide subprime mortgage crisis. The developers resell for full value.

What else can happen to the points or weeks or “inventory” recovered?

According to Greg Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association,   

“There are basically four buckets that transfer companies often attempt to put inventory into…

Bucket 1 – Works with an inventory broker who may or may not have a direct inventory recovery agreement. *Branded properties only

Bucket 2 – Lists timeshare properties on eBay and Craig’s List for $1.00

Bucket 3 – Transfers to “Mules” *Foreign Nationals who may be judgement proof

Bucket 4 – Transfers to Companies who later dissolve the corporation administratively. *Leaves resort pursuing a clouded title, doubling recovery costs and impacting association’s bad debt line, which all remaining owners on the roster end up absorbing.”

saleman

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What! I Can´t Sell It?

Since posting the article titled “More Bad News For Anfi” yesterday 9 August, we have received many comments about the section on resale.

 

In this part is an advert posted on facebook about the sale of a one bed apartment for one week at Puerto Anfi. This is up for sale for £1000 ovno, with so far no one taking up the offer, not even Anfi! (I wonder why?) Many of the comments expressed the same theme, what resale market? No one is even buying from new!

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Having looked on ebay the number of timeshares for sale is staggering, many being given away, even with the incentive of the transfer fees being paid by the vendor. Yet still no takers. One has to ask why is this the case?

 

It may have something to do with the industry’s reputation, the fact maintenance fees are continually rising, the inability to get out of the contracts when circumstances change, or even the fact you can book into these timeshare resorts via the internet cheaper than members can.

 

Many of the resorts also have adverts on their own websites offering rentals to non members for less than most maintenance charges. Is this actually fair on the members, who bought with the promise they were joining an exclusive club, only members would be able to use the resorts.

cheap holiday

 

 

 

 

 

How many of you bought your timeshare with these two promises: You are buying property it will go up in value, when you no longer need it we will buy it back from you? Have any of these ever materialised? Only you can answer that question.

 

So what of the resale market, is there one?

 

Simple answer, NO!

 

Most owners, who have tried to sell have paid extortionate upfront fees, then never heard from the company again. Others have been lured to meetings with so-called corporate buyers. Then sold a dubious holiday club or some kind of leisure credits, with a huge discount for taking the timeshare off their hands. Unfortunately it is not a discount, the price quoted is basically double, then they take into account the “value” of your timeshare, highly inflated off course, that is your discount!

 

In many of these cases, a few years down the line they start getting maintenance fee demands from their resorts, the timeshare ownership was never transferred. So not only have they paid for a “club” that doesn’t work or even exist, they are still stuck with a timeshare they don´t want.

helpUnfortunately there are not many options:

 

  1. Keep it, and carry on paying maintenance, you may be able to rent it out to friends to cover some of the cost.
  2. Stop paying and walk away, hoping they will not chase you with debt collectors. (Not really an option).
  3. See if your resort will take it back (usually for several years maintenance fee payment if you are lucky).
  4. Using a reputable law firm to relinquish (this is by far the best option as it is done using legislation)
  5. Depending when and where you purchased, you may just be able to claim back the purchase price and have the contract cancelled. This will usually require a reputable law firm, well versed in timeshare legislation, and involves litigation.

 

In other words your options are limited.

 

Following are just a few of the comments received:

 

  • 1000 euros for a Puerto anfi week and nobody wants to by it , not even Anfi themselves 😢 that shows you how much the resale market is worth ….nothing 😓😢😢😓”
  • “Tried to sell got conned, wnated to give it back no luck now looking at lawyers”
  • “For sale over year no offers, believed promises of selling more than paid”
  • “Just want out cant give away”
  • “Tried raffle at local pub money goes to charity, no tickets sold”

 

There were many more, but all were saying the same thing, no one wants them. The last comment I think sums it up perfectly, if you can not even raffle it off for charity, what can you do?

 

If you would like further information on what options may be open to you, contact Inside Timeshare. We will try to give you the best advice and information possible, if we do not know the answer we will find it for you.